Teens, Fandoms, and Parenting

Parenting teens is a minefield at times. The amount of content from the entertainment industry, and it’s resulting fandoms, is immense. Mind boggling really. But…I think this has been the case in most of modern history. Each successive generation looks at that their children and what they like as teens and thinks: “What the hell? It wasn’t like that when I was younger.”

It wasn’t. But that fact shouldn’t paralyze you.

I had some thoughts about this. It comes from my own experiences as a parent and from my former life when I worked with teens. Take the following words as a point of view, not a parenting guide. Everyone has to figure stuff out on what works best for them for themselves and their family.

I am a nerdy dad. I like a wide variety of music. I watch anime, sci-fi/ fantasy, and am mildly literate in the world of internet memes. Having two teen boys, I do okay. I can connect with them on things that they happen to like.

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 But is it that simple?

Yes and no.

It’s not enough to have off beat interests. It also means being interested in your teen’s world.

Teen years are one of increasing independence. Their peer group becomes a lot more important. They try on new personalities. Develop their own interests.

As a parent this is both cool to see and potentially frightening and sad. That kid who was once super dependent on you, now is less so. They don’t think the stuff you like is that cool anymore. They like stuff that is weird that their friends introduced them to. You have lost influence. In losing that, it also feel like you lose connection to them. That’s hard.

So what do parents do sometimes? They try to reconnect with their kids. Show them things that you think are cool. Criticize the things that they like also happens.

This works and doesn’t to varying degrees.

In order to bond with your teens, what has kid of worked for me, is joining.

“Joining” is a term that I picked up from my Family Therapy background. It means just that. You “join”, or ally, yourself with another person.

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 So how do you do this with your teen?

What do they like? Do they watch anime? Vampire Diaries? Steven Universe? Do they play Undertale? Overwatch? Listen to some band you have never heard of?

Find ways to ask them about it. Not in an over bearing way.

Watch an episode of their favorite show with them. If the show isn’t something you would typically like, is there an element you do like about it? Why do they like it? Why is it cool to them.

Sometimes the answers will surprise you. I never would have given much thought to Steven Universe if I hadn’t listened to my boys talk about the messages around inclusion that the show has. That’s cool! And it’s cool that they value this!

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 What about the music they listen to? Let them play you the music they like. Find the elements that you can appreciate about it and tell them. I don’t like every song that my boys like, and they know this. But I also don’t tell them that what they like sucks…when you do that you shut down communication. Find out what they like and why.

Having an interest in what is important to your teen goes a long way.

Having said this, here is the crux: It has to be a genuine interest. You can’t just be feigning interest to push your point of view. They can sense that.

Does this mean you need to like or validate all things? Absolutely not.

But by joining with your kids to see why they are fans of what they are fans of helps open dialog.

I’m never going to validate things that are openly racist, homophobic, sexist, or abusive and my boys know this. I will have that discussion with them.

Which brings us to fandoms…

It is where people go from liking a thing, to the online (sometimes obsessive) fan expressions of devotion to what ever that thing may be.

Fandoms can run the spectrum from being positive or innocuous to creepy and/or abusive.

Be aware of this as a parent. If you are able, talk to your teen about it. If you have a concern: express it. This doesn’t mean trying to ban them from being a fan or viewing fan material online, but do talk honestly about your concerns. Teens should be given the tools to know to draw appropriate boundaries between themselves, what they like, and unhealthy expressions of what they like. There are people in fandoms that create creepy content (why does there need to be MLP porn?) and people who get abusive online about their fandom. Have conversations about this.

This is an incoherent post, I know.

But it had some thoughts IU wanted to express.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

Feel free to comment.

 

 

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“Your Name” at last! *spoilers*

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Kimi no Na wa

  I, like many people, have been waiting all year for this to come out.

 Last Sunday I was able to go see it in the theaters finally. Myself, a friend and my boys all went to see the English dub version.

 It was excellent.

 Beautiful.

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 The story was great. A little slow in the start, but that was to be expected. And at times, almost made me cry. Very sweet.

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 Radwimps provided the music, which was also great.

Attention Parents: Just go see it!

 

I loved it. I hope you do as well. I really don’t have anything else to add.
Until next time: Happy Viewing!

My Surprises From The Winter 2017 Season

More recently I haven’t been very aware of what is coming out in the new anime seasons unless it’s a second season of a show that I previously watch and enjoyed. So as I went into finding shows to watch in the winter 2017 season, I was flying blind.

So how do I choose? Look at the graphic and read the brief description on Crunchyroll. That’s about it. If I have been active on my blog and reading other’s posts, I will sometime take cues from there as well.

There were two surprises for me this season. Neither grabbed me on the first episode necessarily, but grew on me over time. They both ended up to be enjoyable shows that surprised me at how much I liked them.

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Interviews With Monster Girls

On the surface, this is just a moe sort of show. Cute girls that just happen to be monsters. And I suppose on the surface that’s what it is. But underneath that it held a nice heart.

The show centers around Sensei Takahashi getting to understand more about his demi-human (“demi”) students and what it is to be a vampire, succubus, snow woman, or dullahan. He starts this somewhat out of academic interest, but later sees the unique challenges that each of these students (and the succubus teacher) face.

The underlying heart of the show (to me) was more about the struggle many face in adolescence (and later in life for that matter). Finding your place in the world. Finding people who accept and understand who you are. Being accepted, not by ignoring your differences, but accepting them as an okay part of who you are.

That, to me, is the heart of the show. Acceptance and friendship.

While this may be a common theme in shows, I feel like they executed it well.

It is mildly fan service-y at times, but what can you expect I suppose…annoying yes, but common.

The animation is good. Not the best of the best, but well done and it fits the show.

Watch it. It’s funny, sweet, and well done. It left me wanting more.

Attention Parents: The show is mildly fan service-y. Several boob-focused moments. Some mildly suggestive talk. That’s about it for objectionable material (unless you are against stories about monsters).  It’s not ecchi mind you, but now you know what to expect.

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

I started out this show with great hesitation.

There were some definite early mildly ecchi moments that made me roll my eyes and question whether I was going to continue with the show.

I’m glad I did.

It turned out to be one of my favorite of the season. Once again, because it had a heart underneath that was hard to ignore.

On the surface it had all (and I mean all) of the moe trappings. Maids, cute kids, dragons, a goth butler sort, and an extremely chesty woman (dragon). It almost felt like pandering to the audience.

However it made up for it in the sweet, real feeling relationships between the characters.

I found that it had a similar theme to “Monster Girls” in that it was people seeking their place they fit in the world. Tohru (the dragon maid) leaves her other dimension of war and conflict with humans and finds a place of love and acceptance. Her other dragon friends who come to live among the humans of this world do as well. It is almost a bit of a metaphor for the feelings of loneliness in this modern world. The desire for connection and to share a life with another.

That’s what resonated with me. People finding connection and building a sense of home.

Attention Parents: There is a definite fair amount of fan service. This is mostly in the form of a scantily clad woman (dragon…excuse me exiled feathered serpent god) and a few comments from Tohru early on.

In spite of all the trappings of moe and the fan service bits this show really redeems itself. It is funny and sweet. The characters are enjoyable (including Miss Kobayashi) and you see their growth throughout the show. It’s well worth the watch!

Until Next time: Happy Viewing!

Sometimes a Basic Show Can Be Enjoyable

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Fuuka

On paper this show isn’t what I’d deem as remarkable. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable.

Fuuka was a pretty straight forward show. It all felt pretty familiar. Boy meets unique girl. They have experiences together. Feeling grow. There is a barrier to overcome. Boy and girl come together. Oh yeah, and there is a band that follows a similar course (because said boy and girl are in the band).

Arguably, one could say a lot of shows follow this pattern. They wouldn’t be wrong. Fuuka just seemed rather obvious in it’s presentation and that stood out to me.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the show.

The animation was decent.

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It had pretty good music (which one would hope seeing it was about a band).

As I understand, the story in the anime diverges a bunch from the manga (not too surprising). So, maybe this was why the story was not as compelling as it could have been…Who knows?

 I still enjoyed it and didn’t feel like it was a waste of time despite my misgivings about the formulaic feel of the story. Sometimes that is okay.

 Watch it. Don’t expect anything earth-shattering. Just a pleasant little show about teens, unrequited love, love, and a band.

Attention Parents: Aside from a brief: “you’re a pervert for trying to look at my panties” scene in the beginning, the show is mostly harmless. No real violence to speak of, not fan service-y, low to no cursing. A pretty safe watch.

Until next time: Happy Viewing!